On January 5, niall at linux.ie said:
> On Sat, Jan 05, 2002 at 12:14:54AM +0000, Gavin McCullagh wrote:
>> > * we must send this on cos (Microsoft|IBM|misc other) will put $1 in
> > the fund for saving some poor child for every 10 emails sent
>> This one really gets me. How can someone who has presumably enough
> functioning synapses to be able to learn to read believe that drivel ? Of
> course, having just had a conversation with a girl at customer service in a
> Tesco where they've had to block up the punt slots on their dual currency
> trolley locks because the great unwashed were putting 1 Euro coins into the
> clearly marked 1 punt slots, I suppose there's no end to the stupidity of
> Joe Sixpack - and some people would like to dumb down my favourite OS enough
> for this person to use it - I surely hope not.
Two slightly different things are at work here.
The former relies on the technobabble factor - the great unwashed, as
you put it, simply accept the email at face value. Sites like the
Hunger site serve to back up the idea that such a scheme is possible,
and the desire to salve one's conscience without doing a whole lot is
The latter relies on something any UI designer will tell you: people
assume they know how something works, and will resist all attempts to
insinuate otherwise. This also covers people who will not read the
manual but will instead insist that their product sucks/is broken,
people who click OK on EULAs that sell away all their rights, and
people who despite all exhortations in text to use an interface
according to process X, will determine some other process Y and use
that regardless. Thus leading to two very simple principles of UI
design, viz. The Principle of Least User Astonishment (i.e. the
application should do the most obvious thing for a given task) and The
Keyed Slot Principle, or "If it only works one way, make it only FIT
one way". The latter, I suspect, might be of use to the Tescos trolley
designers, although the difference in thickness (the necessary
'keying' in this case) is insufficent to provide a good solution.
It's unfair to regard it as stupidity, or dumbness, or lack of
intelligence. It's precisely BECAUSE people don't think of themselves
as stupid, or dumb, or lacking in intelligence that these things
happen. You're doing the same thing every time you grab a tarball and
do ./configure && make without checking any of the accompanying
Anyway. This is all terribly off-topic, and I'm supposed to be working
in another window.
waider at waider.ie / Yes, it /is/ very personal of me.
"It would be hard to design a worse outdoor chair without making it
irresistably delicious to squirrels." - L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg
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